Posts Tagged ‘konami’



Developer: Vatra Studios

Release: March 2012

Genre: Survival-Horror

Format: PS3, Xbox 360

It’s been a rocky road for the Silent Hill franchise ever since the fourth instalment, but I’ve always found it a difficult series to follow. Not every game related to the same story arc, and sometimes the abstract symbolism was too, well, abstract. But, being a huge Resident Evil fan back in the 1990s meant that Silent Hill was always a game worth playing, due to the comparisons people made at the time. Despite my struggle to sometimes understand the games, they always managed to get inside my head, creating a fear that Resident Evil’s grisly and jumpy scares couldn’t compete with.

Silent Hill: Downpour is a refreshing game to play. It isn’t a technical triumph; on the contrary, it has its shortcomings in regard to combat controls, graphic glitches, and outdated adventure game logic. However, it feels right, it brings back memories of sitting in the dark when I was a young gamer, scared shitless at the grotesque and surreal images amid the foggy streets of Silent Hill. It’s atmospheric game, and you can mostly thank the sound design team for that. With a good sound system, Downpour has the ability to immerse you fully into Murphy Pendleton’s journey to the infamous rural town. This is something most fans of the games will find hard to believe, considering that previous sound designer and series staple, Akira Yamaoka, retired from Konami prior to Downpour’s development.

The developer, Vatra, are making their debut in the industry, and to be given the chance to work on such a legendary series at such a crucial point in its lifespan, shows the young developer’s potential. Sure, games like Dead Space and F.E.A.R have come along and sewn up the horror genre, and Downpour won’t be remembered for adding anything innovative to cinematic and tactical scares, but it will be remembered for delivering an intriguing and traditional Silent Hill experience.

With a good sound system, Downpour has the ability to immerse you fully into Murphy Pendleton’s journey.

The story is a slow burner; you play Murphy Pendleton, an escaped convict who – not unlike every other Silent Hill protagonist – has an enigmatic past, and a withdrawn personality. While being transported from his previous prison complex, the bus crashes, and Murphy appears to be the only survivor from the wreckage. Making his way to the nearest seemingly inhabited area, Murphy looks for a way out onto the main road, and to start his new life as a free man. But we all know nothing is as simple as that when it comes to Silent Hill, and Murphy must face his inner demons in order to be truly free. Murphy’s is a captivating character, and even though the story takes plenty of time to engage you, you will be hooked once the secrets of his past start to come to light.

In terms of gameplay, don’t expect a lot from Downpour. As previously mentioned, the game doesn’t stand out graphically, and the controls can be very frustrating. However, it doesn’t hold your hand, and this is partly what makes the game so refreshing. Sure, it has a combat/control tutorial at the beginning, but after that, you’re on your own, and if you mess up, you will be required to load a previous save in order to continue. This may sound like a ball-ache, but it just goes to show how much we take for granted in videogames these days. The gameplay changes depending on which realm of Silent Hill you currently occupy. In the Fog World – or rather Rainy World – you’re exploring, occasionally fighting for your life, and meeting the game’s engaging cast of characters. In the Otherworld, you have large puzzles to solve, and chase sequences from a creature called The Void – these moments are extremely exciting.

A lot of thought has gone into the game’s presentation, resulting in a more realistic videogame. Murphy can only carry one melee weapon at the time, so pick wisely. They also degrade over time, you may start a fight with a hammer and finish with a chunk of wood in your hand, so you must always be on the lookout. Murphy’s clothes also tear and rip so throughout the game he’ll gradually look like he’s been through hell and back.

Silent Hill: Downpour perfectly captures the classic Silent Hill style, and fans of the series will enjoy the story. The fantastic voice acting and smart sound design allows for a more immersive experience, though issues with frame rates and difficulty, plus average graphics may put a lot of shallow gamers off.  It’s definitely a game to save for a rainy day.

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